[Excerpt] Last month, President Bush attempted to paint a rosy picture of the economy and the State of our Union. But a close look at the daily lives of working families across the nation tells a different story. Things are moving in the wrong direction for working families. And it’s a direct result of policy choices that have been made by our nation’s leaders.
Working families throughout America are increasingly being squeezed— they are working longer today to pay for middle-class living than they had to 25 years ago. Nationally, today’s families are facing a combination of stagnant incomes and staggering cost increases for health care, education, housing, transportation and, especially now, fuel. In 2005, the average two-earner family needed to work 31.5 weeks a year to pay for taxes and health care, housing, college and transportation costs, compared with 30.2 weeks in March 2001 and 28.7 weeks in March 1979. After paying for those basic needs, that average family had $951 less than families in 2000 and $1,702 less than families in 1980 to pay for other basic items as well as to save for retirement.